Once again you find those dirty socks on the floor. It makes you angry and you want to scream. Oh, how you long for the day when you don’t have to pick up dirty socks from the floor, yet all the yelling day after day is not doing any good. Learning how to understand and re-train your mate will make your relationship stronger and eventually drive behaviors you are looking for without going to war over something as silly as dirty socks.
Emotions are Feelings
In order to be able to change behavior, let’s first understand our emotional responses. Webster defines emotions as: “A state of feeling, a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as a strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.”
Emotions are healthy reactions to life. Emotions can also deteriorate a relationship quickly. Emotional reactions or feelings that are not managed in a positive way can cause us great mental and physical health issues as well. Practicing effective management of our emotions will help us live happier and healthier lives, reduce stress and redirect behavior to get the results we desire.
Emotions are Energy
Think about the last time you were really excited about something. The energy was pulsing through your body, your senses were heightened, and your adrenaline was pumping. Now think about the last time you were really angry or scared about something. The physiological reaction is exactly the same. Emotions are just energy; nothing more nothing less and they have no value of positive or negative, until we assign it.
You Assign the Value
You decide if the energy you are feeling is a positive energy or a negative energy. The experience itself causes you to make a decision about whether your emotion is negative or positive. If you are driving in rush hour traffic and almost have a car accident, you will probably have an emotional response. That response can be negative; “STUPID JERK, YOU ALMOST KILLED ME!” followed by anger and stress toward the other driver. Or you could choose a more positive response, “WOW! That was close, I am so thankful to be alive.” followed by counting your blessing and adding that near miss to the list. The value that is assigned to that emotion is up to you. You can choose in every situation if the emotion is positive or negative.
Don’t go to War
The problem arises in our relationships when we allow our emotions about little things to get out of control and before we know it we are going three rounds over dirty socks that were left in the floor. If we assign the value to our emotions, the secret is finding a positive way to express our emotions when we feel them. Instead of yelling about dirty socks again, starting an argument, and creating stress in your relationship, use your emotional response to reinforce the behavior that you desire.
Use Humor and Love
Use humor to tell your mate, “I put your dirty socks in the hamper, and it is a true labor of love.” Make up your mind that this process won’t be a quick one. Every day, pick up the socks and repeat, ‘I put your dirty socks in the hamper, because I love you.” Every time you don’t have to pick them up, respond with a kiss and say, “Thanks for putting your dirty socks in the hamper, you really do love me!” You are channeling your emotions into positive behavior instead of nagging. Eventually, and again, not immediately, but eventually, that reinforcement will drive the behavior you are looking for and you won’t be a nag.
This technique will work for any behavior that you want to change. First, change your emotional response. Reinforce this positive response by using humor or expressions of love. Repeat daily and provide recognition for the appropriate behavior. You will get the results you desire and be much happier in the process.
Learning how to manage your emotions and channel them into positive responses will improve your relationship and manage your stress level. You will also get the results you are looking for. Using friendly reminders with expressions of love, along with reinforcing the behavior you want will drive results. Really, who wants to fight over dirty socks?